Has the Cruise Industry Already Forgotten the Costa Concordia?

Cruise Marketing - Costa ConcordiaI have been out of town for the past week with my family on spring break vacation, returning last night to Miami.  But I have been my usual self reading up on the latest cruise news.

It seems that the cruise lines enjoyed a great time last week of self-generated good news. The Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM) event ran its predictable course. The cruise convention broadcast the industry's post-Concordia talking points where the cruise executives and trade organization representatives competed with one another extolling on the cruise industry's great safety record.  Few facts, lots of self-serving opinions.  No independent thinkers challenged the false feel-good cruise prophets.  

Many of the cruise articles I read online contained cruise advertisements from Silversea Cruises showing a cruise ship sailing dangerously close to the rocks somewhere in the Mediterranean.

Have the cruise marketers learned anything? 

After the CSM propaganda extravaganza ended, the cruise convention attendees piled into cabs for a night out drinking.

Lots of private parties. Lots of laughing faces posted on Twitter.  Royal Caribbean's CEO Richard Fain Barbara and Gerry Heiljoked at the RCCL dinner about the first Costa Concordia question coming just 18 minutes into dinner. He had to delay sucking down his shrimp cocktail to think of the cruise talking points - this was a freak accident, caused by a renegade captain, which unfairly tarnished a cruise industry with a fantastic safety record.   

If you interviewed everyone at the cruise shipping convention, you would get one opinion - cruising is safe.  But ask them the names of the Minnesota couple who died in the disaster?  No one would have a clue.  

Is it that easy to forget the names of the drowned just two months ago? Or did the cruise executives ever bother to learn the names of the dead in the first place?   

Cruise Shipping Miami 2012 - Cruising is Safe, It Really Is, Trust Us

I am out of town with my family on Spring Break for a couple of days.  This morning I was on my computer reading the Twitter feed for Cruise Shipping Miami 2012.

As all of you know, the Cruise Shipping Miami event (previously known a SeaTrade) is the annual event sponsored by the cruise industry where the cruise line vendors, excursion companies, port agencies, and foreign tourism boards fill the Miami Beach Convention Center advertising their services.

It sounds like a rather surreal environment this year.

The Mexican tourism people are telling everyone how extremely safe Mexico is.  Let's not talk about the 22 Carnival cruise passengers robbed at gunpoint last month.

Cruise Line International President Christine Duffy - two weeks after her disastrous performance before the U.S. Senate where she was chastised for a lack of candor - started off her moderation of the cruise line president's discussions with the usual talking points about the cruise industry's incredibly safety record.   

Carnival executive Howard Frank said cruise ships are safe and his Costa crewmembers were the "true heroes" in the Costa Concordia disaster.   A Celebrity Cruise president and a NCL captain raved about the safety of cruise ships and so on and so forth.

If you ran a computer analysis of the words spoken by the cruise line leaders at the convention, "safe," "incredibly safe" or "remarkably safe" would be at the top of the list. 

But the first two months of this year have been as disastrous a period of time for cruising as I have ever seen.  Not just the Concordia capsizing and the Allegra ship fire.  There have been nine gastrointestinal sickness outbreaks in 2012, a new record.  Plus a steady stream of child molestation cases, crewmembers and older passengers raping teenage girls, deaths and overboard crew and passengers, including another highly suspicious disappearance of yet another woman during a recent cruise.

Cruise experts like Professor Ross Klein, who maintains the most comprehensive list of cruise ship overboards, norovirus cases and cruise mishaps - are not invited, and are not welcome, at the cruise convention.

We will read newspaper accounts from the cruise friendly press and travel agent publications reciting the safety "facts" touted by the cruise industry as the Gospel Truth.

This is the cruise industry's happy fest.  Critics, complainers or independent thinkers stay away.

Cruising is safe, remarkably safe, the cruise executives say.  Repeat after us - cruising is safe.  It really is.  Trust us.

Now can I sell you a discounted cruise to Mexico?

Court Rejects Oceania Cruises' Attempt to Limit Compensation at $65,000 for Child Raped by Crewmember

On June 10th, a senior Federal District Court Judge in Miami rejected an attempt by a Miami-based cruise line to limit its potential liability at no more than $65,000 for alleged damages suffered by a minor raped on a cruise ship.    

The case arose out of a shipboard rape of a girl alleged against Oceania Cruises.  According to the lawsuit papers, an Oceania Cruises crewmember sexually assaulted and raped a 13 year old girl during a cruise aboard the Regatta cruise ship in October 2009.  

Oceania Cruises filed a motion seeking to assert, as an affirmative defense, the terms and Oceania Cruises - Regatta Cruise Ship - Sexual Assault - Rapeconditions of the "Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea."  This is an international treaty which applies when a cruise ship does not call on a U.S. port.  It is commonly referred to as the "Athens Convention."  The Athens Convention limits a cruise lines liability for injuries and deaths to 46,666 Special Drawing Right (SDR's) which is an international currency which has a conversion rate today of around U.S. $65,000.

Most cruise passengers are unaware that if they or a loved one are seriously injured or killed, the cruise lines will try to enforce the Athens Convention damage limitation which is incorporated in all cruise tickets.

However, the Athens Convention does not apply when the cruise line or crewmembers act intentionally or recklessly.   The Act states that the cruise line can't benefit from the limitation ". . . if it is proved that the damage resulted from an act or omission of the carrier done with the intent to cause such damage, or recklessly and with knowledge that such damages would probably result."

Addressing this plain language, Senior Judge James Lawrence King ruled that the Athens Convention does not apply for "intentional torts."  Because the minor's claims for sexual assault and rape (as well as false imprisonment) are "intentional torts," the limits of liability contained in the Athens Convention do not apply. 

The attorney for the child is Jason Margulies.  The defense lawyer for Oceania Cruises is William Clair of Hill Betts & Nash.

This case should be an eye opener for most cruisers.  Yes, there are many cruises where crewmembers rape children.  Take a moment and read:

Why Cruises are NOT the Best Vacations with Kids

Should Travel Agents Be Liable For Falsely Representing That Cruises Are Safe For Kids?

Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

Top Ten Reasons Not To Cruise: No. 1 - Cruise Lines Are A Perfect Place To Sexually Abuse Children

Cruise lines like Oceania Cruises will do everything they can to avoid paying reasonable compensation when rapes occur, even when their ship employees rape the children of their guests. 

 

Photo credit:  CruiseLineFans.com